Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Time of the Signs

Ah to be in PR again, now that the election season's here! PR spindoctors may look down on poets as nerdy word-smiths, and poets may believe publicists to be soul-less pollsters, but the two are more alike than they think. I know - I've been both. 

For both the challenge is to cram your entire, often complex message into a sound-bite - a few words that will capture your thoughts like a perfectly-preserved creature in amber. (Oops, sorry - the poet slipped out there.)  

Political slogans and speeches sometimes  slip into the poetic. Dogberry has already gone into the whole 'Repetition, repetition, repetition' thing. (He didn't call it a 'thing' - he had a proper name for it. We (ex)PR types don't go in for the proper names of things - we never need to know.) The occasional revisiting of key phrases in speeches remind me of performance poetry. Obama could have won a slam with his 'Yes we can!'

But who wants to listen to an impassioned speech when they only have the attention span of a Hallmark card? This election campaign has resorted to the sound-bite, and, more than ever, the sight-bite. (Ooh - did I just make up a  new word? I love it when that happens!*) And thanks to the plethora of image-ma

*Alas no, sight bite is already at large, though generally used for video clips.king and info-sharing software it's been a creative campaign on the poster front.

It's already too late to see  - an independent website which took 'that' Cameron poster

and made a template available for anyone with basic IT skills to play with. 250,000 people visited. I only just found out, but the site has closed. More about it here.  

It'll all be over by the time you read this, but here are a couple of the rallies of this poster war:!. 

Here's the original Labour poster comparing Tory leaders to X-factor's dodgy pop duo Jedwood. 

And here's the Tory response.

It works the other way. Labour's attempts to allude to the dark Thatcherite 1980's by using imagery from Ashes to Ashes back-fired dramatically when they managed to achieve the impossible: The made David Cameron look sexy. 

They had reckoned without the 'Gene Hunt effect.' The Tories practically reproduced the same poster (with a little more airbrushing perchance?).

There are more of these on the Guardian website and more about that Ashes to Ashes flip at The Times.

I've gone on long enough, much like the election night.

Let's finish with my favourite, which simply takes the much-discussed ambiguity of Labour's 'A Future Fair For All' campaign slogan and does what we all would have done with it. I would never have come up with or agreed to a slogan like that. It was ripe for plundering.

Another post about posters: Discovering de-motivational posters


  1. I like it! Poll up! Poll up! Let yourself be taken for another ride!

  2. Good post! The witty subversion of election posters has been great fun - whatever side of the political divide you're on. And the subversives are so quick off the mark!

    Here's a few more:

  3. Thank God it's all over. I am writing this while the very first votes are being counted and the damn spouting of platitudes and hot air is going on all sides, media and politicians, pollsters and PR 'experts'. I hate it, I hate it, i hate.
    Thank God for people taking the piss.

  4. Martin - excellent! Wish I'd thought of that!

    Moptop - great link. I think I missed another meeting?

    Fran - thanks sweetie!

    Friko - you've got to laugh or you'd cry. generally.

  5. I'm still getting my head around the fact that David Cameron says he listened to The Smiths at uni.

  6. That's what he was programmed to say. Oh God, I can't bear him.

  7. Well, now it's all over but with plenty of fun to be had by the likes of you and Moptop for a while yet. I got myself into trouble on her blog for not having done my election homework (reading British newspaper) and will not dare to comment on things political ever again.
    HOWEVER, I still find all these posts very funny even if I don't always get the point. And thanks a bunch for having come over to my place and leaving such a lovely comment, BB. (Whenever I type that I get an image of you which looks an awful lot like that other BB over there in the south of France...)